Several of us in the office have been reading Will Guidara’s Unreasonable Hospitality, which you may remember was featured in an episode of the popular FX show “The Bear.”

Guidara’s ideas about providing exceptional service and creating meaningful experiences for guests have sparked some engaging discussions among the Flock. If the book has a central thesis, it’s this: Giving people more than they expect is the key to building lasting relationships and creating loyal customers. 

By going above and beyond in every interaction, Guidara argues, any business can differentiate themselves and leave a lasting impression on customers. This “unreasonable” approach to hospitality requires a genuine commitment to understanding and anticipating the needs of others, as well as a willingness to invest time and resources into creating unforgettable experiences. Beyond restaurants (Guidara’s area of expertise) and other service-oriented businesses, where this approach most obviously has value, Guidara believes that the principles of unreasonable hospitality can be applied to create a culture of excellence and drive long-term success in any industry.

Delivering an exceptional customer experience has become more critical than ever. In industries for which digital technologies continue to reshape consumer expectations and behaviors—which is, frankly, every business with a website—companies should adapt their strategies to meet these changing demands.

Prioritizing Deep Emotional Connections

One of the most powerful ways to enhance the customer experience is through personalization and nurturing deep emotional connections. In Guidara’s restaurants, a server can pick up on implied needs during a brief conversation at the table. Before ordering an appetizer, a woman may mention that she and her husband forgot to bring umbrellas, noting that the sky has finally broken loose now that they’ve been seated, and—in a fit of unreasonable hospitality—the restaurant can procure a pair of umbrellas for them before the meal is over.

Digital experiences can help arm businesses with similar knowledge, despite the distance between them, and digital interactions can be tailored to provide highly relevant and personalized experiences that demonstrate empathy and understanding. 

User Experience (UX) Is Also Customer Experience

One of the clearest examples of this comes from the writer Andrew Roe. In addition to his novels and short stories, Roe has written professionally for a number of the largest digitally-centered corporations in America, including Amazon, eBay, and Airbnb. In his work as a content strategist at TurboTax, Roe used microcopy to profoundly shape the user experience. By infusing the onboarding process with a conversational, emotionally engaging tone, Roe helped ease customers into the daunting task of doing their taxes while humanizing the brand. He acknowledged the pain points (nobody likes doing their taxes), asked about their feelings, and provided individualized responses that made the experience feel less like a transaction—and more like a supportive conversation.

Roe’s empathy-driven approach even extended to handling sensitive situations, such as when customers had to report the death of a child for tax purposes. Recognizing the insensitivity of the existing design, he proactively redesigned the experience, incorporating compassionate language, reducing the painful repetition of the child’s name, and streamlining the process. This thoughtful revision improved the experience for thousands of grieving TurboTax customers each year, demonstrating the profound impact that carefully crafted microcopy can have on users facing emotionally challenging circumstances. It also helped TurboTax garner positive customer reviews and press attention, and certainly played a role in their success.

A screenshot of Roe’s work.

Prioritizing Empathy Is Always the Right Decision

As Guidara emphasizes in his book, prioritizing empathy and anticipating guests’ desires can create memorable experiences, which requires using technology to understand and preempt customers’ needs—even those they haven’t articulated. By sharpening observation and intuition, businesses can surprise and delight customers in unexpected ways, transforming newer interactions into lasting relationships and further strengthening long-time customer connections.

Today’s customers expect a seamless and consistent experience across all touchpoints. Digital technologies play a crucial role in enabling this omnichannel integration, allowing companies to provide consistent messaging, offers, and experiences, regardless of how a customer chooses to engage. To deliver this level of seamless integration, businesses must cultivate a culture of excellence and empower their teams. But if that’s what customers expect, how can you deliver something beyond their expectations?

One way is to continue to prepare your employees to think deeply about your customers. By investing in training, personal development, and even a supportive work environment, companies help make sure that every team member is equipped to deliver exceptional service. This culture of excellence should permeate every facet of your business, including digital interactions.

Continuous Improvement through Data and Evolution

Digital technologies have transformed customer support, enabling businesses to proactively address customer needs. It may sound counterintuitive, but you have to provide customers what they need before you can go far beyond their expectations, so the instant assistance chatbots powered by AI can provide has a role in shaping the customer’s overall experience. Additionally, predictive analytics and even social media monitoring tools can help businesses quickly identify customer concerns or respond to customer feedback, demonstrating a commitment to customer satisfaction.

Customer experiences online generate vast amounts of valuable data. By analyzing this data, companies can gain actionable insights into customer preferences, pain points, and behavior patterns. These insights can inform continuous improvements to the customer experience, allowing businesses to optimize digital platforms, streamline processes, and address friction points.

Furthermore, as Will Guidara emphasizes, committing to continual evolution is essential in exceeding expectations and adapting to customers’ evolving needs. This means continuously seeking new ways to leverage technology to improve and personalize interactions, offer unparalleled convenience, and maintain the human touch that sets a business apart.


When we each carry a super-computer in our pockets, a digital experience is not separate from “the real world,” so leveraging digital experiences to strengthen the customer experience is a strategic imperative. 

Businesses can harness the power of digital technologies to anticipate and exceed customer expectations, even in the briefest online interactions. By consistently delivering value, convenience, and personalized experiences across digital touchpoints, while maintaining a human touch, businesses can cultivate a loyal customer base and achieve long-term success in an ever-changing marketplace. Through a commitment to empathy, excellence, and evolution, companies can create digital experiences that strengthen customer relationships and help set them apart in an increasingly competitive landscape.

And there’s nothing unreasonable about that.

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